India facing defensive worries ahead of SAFF Cup semi-final

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Male, Jun 10 (UNI) India coach Bob Houghton sounded a cautious note ahead of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup semi-final clash against Bhutan here.

''I was under the notion that we will be facing Afghanistan.

But Bhutan's performance surprised me. We haven't played them in recent months so I don't have any plan for them,'' Houghton said.

Houghton is facing defensive worries with the reliable NS Manju forced to sit out due to an injury.

Sameer Naik will also miss the match after picking up a double booking in the last encounter against hosts Maldives.

''I was under the impression that Sameer would be available for this match because I was told that group stage cards would not count for the knock-out phase,'' Houghton rued. ''But, the organisers now say that only yellow cards received in successive matches will be withdrawn. But Sameer was sent off after being shown the yellow card twice.'' India, who are the defending champions, will field a conventional 4-4-2 formation tomorrow with Sunil Chettri partnering star striker Bhaichung Bhutia upfront.

UNI XC AB RN1811

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